Tesla has had quite a good run lately. Their stock has nearly tripled in the past six months; the Model S has been showered with accolades including Motor Trends 2013 Car of The Year, Automobile Magazines 2013 Automobile of The Year and ...
Tesla has had quite a good run lately. Their stock has nearly tripled in the past six months; the Model S has been showered with accolades including Motor Trends 2013 Car of The Year, Automobile Magazines 2013 Automobile of The Year and Consumer Reports recently awarded it the highest score of any car they have ever tested. Think about that for a minute. Consumer Reports has been testing cars for over seventy five years, they now test about 80 cars per year and the Model S achieved a score of 99 out of 100 which is the highest any car they have tested has ever scored. Ladies and gentlemen, the electric car has arrived.
I’ve had the chance to take a Model S on a short drive before, but last week I had a brand new 85kWh Model S for the afternoon, courtesy of friends Phil & Nancy Blackwood. The Blackwoods were in BMW’s MINI-E program as I was but elected not to lease an ActiveE as I did; citing the need for more range than the 94 mile EPA rated ActiveE would deliver.
Like me, a few months after they got their MINI-E back in 2009, the Blackwoods installed a solar array on the roof of their house. As was the case for me, it only took a few months of driving electric to convince the Blackwoods that they would be driving electric from then on. Once you experience that revelation, the decision to go solar is an easy one. Having the ability to make your cars fuel by capturing sunshine is just too good to pass up and many other electric vehicle owners have done exactly what the Blackwoods and I have.
So wanting to drive electric but needing more than 100 miles of range the choice was clear; they would buy a Tesla Model S. The Model S is available in two battery sizes. The 60kWh battery is EPA rated at 208 miles of range and the 85kWh battery is rated at 265 miles. The 60kWh version starts at $71,070 and the 85kWh costs $81,070. There is also a performance version which costs $96,070. They all qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit which is not included in the above pricing. Some states also have additional incentives for zero emission cars. For example I live in NJ and electric cars are tax exempt so that would account for an additional $5,000 to $7,000 of savings over a comparably priced gasoline car. The car I drove was an 85kWh, (non performance version) and with options cost about $86,000 before the $7,500 federal tax credit.
When Motor Trend tested the 85kWh performance version it achieved a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds. The non-performance version such as the one that I drove has a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds. I’ve driven cars as fast as this, but the experience of driving an electric car this fast is really surreal. Having 325lb-ft of instant torque at your disposal at any speed, combined with the ultra quiet and vibration-less cabin is hypnotizing. All you want to do is punch the accelerator at every opportunity. It handles like a sports car, partly because of the low center of gravity. The battery pack which is the heaviest component of the car is located beneath the passenger compartment, and employs the same modern body-on-frame architecture that the BMW i3 will use. I believe this is the best way to properly engineer an electric car and I am very happy BMW agrees. Internal combustion vehicles can never have such a large percentage of the vehicle’s weight at or even slightly below the axle line and this is a great advantage for improved handling.
Once inside the Model S it’s apparent the cabin is very spacious for a car of its size. Cargo space is also plentiful and in addition to the rear hatch area there is a large front trunk or as Tesla calls it, a “frunk”. This is also due to the dedicated electric vehicle architecture. Since the entire drivetrain is below the passenger compartment, there is more interior and cargo space available. Again, the i3 will share this advantage and BMW has said the interior volume of the i3 will be nearly as much as in a 3-Series, even though the car is much smaller.
However the i3 will not have